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Mississippi seeing low-key congressional campaigns

Mississippi’s U.S. House races are low-key, with all four incumbents enjoying comfortable fundraising leads over their challengers.

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1st DISTRICT

Republican Rep. Trent Kelly won a June 2015 special election to fill the unexpired term of Republican Alan Nunnelee, who died earlier that year. Kelly, of Saltillo, is a former district attorney. He defeated one opponent in the GOP primary in March and faces three general election challengers who have not filed campaign finance reports, according to the Federal Election Commission website.

Kelly has raised $998,816 and spent $839,682 this election cycle, most of it for the 2015 race.

Democratic challenger Jacob Owens, 25, of Oxford is making his first run for public office and said Thursday that he has made a few speeches, knocked on some doors and has been posting to Twitter.

“My message is to get out and vote,” said Owens, an architect intern. “Vote Democratic and vote your conscience.”

Also running are the Reform Party’s Cathy Toole of Biloxi and Libertarian Chase Wilson of Olive Branch. Congressional candidates are not required to live in the district where they’re running, but living outside it is generally a disadvantage.

The 1st District includes 21 counties and part of one, stretching from the Tennessee line down to Winston County in central Mississippi.

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2nd DISTRICT

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson won a 1993 special election to succeed Democrat Mike Espy, who left the House to become secretary of agriculture. Thompson was mayor of Bolton and served as a Hinds County supervisor before going to Congress. He is currently the top-ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee and was unopposed in the party primary this year.

Thompson has raised $867,796 and spent $752,608 this election cycle, while his three challengers have not filed campaign finance reports. They are Republican John Bouie II of Gulfport, the Reform Party’s Johnny McLeod of Hattiesburg and independent Troy Ray of West.

The 2nd District includes 24 counties and part of two others, stretching 200 miles along the Mississippi River, encompassing the rural Delta and dipping into the metro Jackson area.

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3rd DISTRICT

Republican Rep. Gregg Harper was first elected to an open seat in 2008 and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Harper, of Pearl, was an attorney in private practice before going to Congress.

Harper has raised $830,691 and spent $985,051 this election cycle, and his challengers have not filed finance reports.

Harper defeated one opponent in the Republican primary in the spring and faces three general election challengers: Democrat Dennis C. Quinn of Magnolia, Veterans Party candidate Roger I. Gerrard of Meridian and the Reform Party’s Lajena Sheets of Seminary.

The 3rd District includes all of 20 counties and parts of four, making a diagonal across the state from Wilkinson and Adams counties on the Louisiana state line, through suburban Jackson and northward to Noxubee County and Starkville.

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4th DISTRICT

Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Biloxi unseated longtime Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor in 2010. Before going to Congress, Palazzo served in the state House of Representatives. He is currently a member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Palazzo has collected $721,203 and spent $278,689 this election cycle.

Democrat Mark Gladney of Gulfport has collected $50,742 and spent $42,135. Gladney, a retired Army officer, has been making campaign appearances but has been largely ignored by Palazzo.

Palazzo, a veteran of the Marine Corps Reserves, was unopposed in the Republican primary this year and faces three challengers in November: Gladney, Libertarian Richard Blake McCluskey of Hattiesburg and the Reform Party’s Shawn O’Hara of Hattiesburg. McCluskey and O’Hara have not filed finance reports.

The 4th District includes 13 entire counties and part of one on the southern end of the state, from Jones County down to the Gulf Coast.

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